More than five dozen employees with the New York City Housing Authority were charged with accepting cash payments in exchange for giving out contracts, federal officials said, calling it the largest single-day bribery takedown in the Justice Department’s history.
Seventy current and former employees allegedly received cash from contractors in exchange for NYCHA “no-bid” contracts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced in a news release. The defendants allegedly demanded over $2 million in bribe money and awarded over $13 million worth of no-bid contracts.
Most of the defendants, 66 of them, were arrested Tuesday in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and North Carolina on charges that include solicitation and receipt of a bribe, extortion, and conspiracy. One defendant was also charged with destruction of evidence and false statements, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
NYCHA’s Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt said in a statement that the agency has “zero tolerance for wrongful and illegal activity.”
“The individuals allegedly involved in these acts put their greed first and violated the trust of our residents, their fellow NYCHA colleagues, and all New Yorkers,” Bova-Hiatt said. “These actions are counter to everything we stand for as public servants and will not be tolerated in any form. … We will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners to rid the Authority of malfeasance.”
The alleged bribes happened when repairs and construction work required NYCHA, the largest public housing authority in the country, to use outside contractors, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.